Posted on December 28th, 2012 No comments
If ever a family were haunted by tragedy, it is the family of “Elder” David Gray and Susan Ann Diffendarfer.
They married on 9 Feb, 1843 in Allen, Indiana and set out to raise a family and make a living farming in Noble County, Indiana. He was 23, she 19.
Indiana census, birth, death, and cemetery records tell a sad story. First, the census:
- 1850 – Gray David 28, Susan 24, George 3, Mary 1, Elsey 65.
- 1860 – Gray David 38, Susan 35, George 13, Mary 10, James 7, Louisa 5, Cecelia 6/12.
- 1870 – Gray Susan 41, Owen 17. Silla 10 (Noble Twp).
By 1850, within the first seven years of their marriage, David and Susan have lost four children (Henry, Harriet, Philander, and Wm. Benjamin), and were to lose John D that fall. Living with the family is David’s mom Alcy (Alse, Elsey), his father William Penn having died four years before the census.
By 1860, the grave has taken Bertus, Sarah Jane, Luella, Celestia, and Warren. James, Louisa, and Cecelia are new names in the census (At this point, in the absence of confirmed death records, it’s conceivable some names overlap)
In the 1870 census, we note the absence of David (d. 1865) and Cecelia. Owen James and Priscilla (Silla) remain with Susan. George at 23 might have moved away; we find him married in 1875. Mary at 20 would probably be married.
Now some data from birth, death, cemetery, and marriage records as well as obituaries from the time. Children known or suspected to have died before age 16 are in bold.
- Henry, son of David & S. Gray, b. Sept. 1843, d. 1843, age 6 dys
- Harriet, dau of D. & S. Gray, b. Jun 19 1845, d. Jul 6 1845
- William Benjamin, b. Mar 10, 1846, no record of death but does not appear on 1850 census at which time he would be four.
- Philander, son of David & S. Gray, b. Mar 10 1847, d. Mar 12 1847.
- Phillip – some sources list a son with the same date of birth as Philander, so given the similarity in names I’m assuming this is the same child, though twins are possible. The similarity of dates for Wm B and Philander is also a bit suspicious. I can find no confirmation of the existence of this child.
- George Washington, b. Mar 1847 (?! Twin to Philander?) – Marriage record shows him son of David Gray & Sarah Diffendarfer, married Sarah Slusser on 23 Dec 1875
- Mary A. Gray, 1849 – 1928
- John D. Gray, son of David & S. Gray, d. 1850 age 6 dys
- Bertus GRAY, b. 1 Mar 1851, d. 1 Mar 1857
- James Owen, b. 8 Oct 1852, m. 1876 to Catherine Birch.
- Sarah Anne, dau of David & S. Gray, d. 1854 age 7 mos 14 dys
- Eliza Jane Louise, b. Dec 1854 (probably the Louisa on the 1860 census), apparently lived to marry a Charles Giggy, date unknown
- Celestia, dau of David & S. Gray, b. 14 Jul 1855, d. 7 Apr 1859
- Cecelia – I have this child only from the 1860 census; assuming that she is not the “Silla” of 1870, she lived less than 10 years.
- Warren, son of David & S. Gray, d. 1860 age 3 mos 17 dys
- Priscilla Ann, dau of S A & B J Gray [Obituary says daughter of Elder David Gray] d. Jun 8, 1875, age 14 yrs 8 mos 11 dys
Of fifteen confirmed children, only four are known to have survived past adolescence.
Today, infant/child mortality is relatively rare but David and Susan buried at least eleven small caskets.
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As facts are revealed, the information in this story may change. For the latest updates, please check Grays Going Back.
Posted on December 24th, 2012 No comments
Prints quickly and quietly with good quality so great for a home office but NOT a good general printer for the home.
Why not? Although Epson boasts that the WorkForce 454 has “all the tools you need to take on any project”, they’re exaggerating considerably.
Since it lacks a straight-thru feed, the printer won’t print well on anything thicker than 20# copy paper. This means it won’t do cardstock, labels, or business cards very well, and it has issues feeding envelopes.
It scans beautifully but takes three minutes per page. Oh, and it seems to be an ink hog; I’ve had it just over a week and haven’t done all that much with it (maybe 250 pages, one photo) but the black cartridge is empty and the three color cartridges are down by two thirds.
In other words, it’s not as versatile or useful as the older, cheaper Lexmark X75 printer it replaced..
However, if you do multi-page reports, and need a small office photocopier with document feed, this is a good printer for the price.
Posted on December 21st, 2012 No comments
Getting a bit excited about heading south, but meanwhile still enjoying a bit of genealogy research. Here’s one of the little mysteries that makes it fun.
On the 1850 US Federal Census for Green Township, Noble County, Indiana are two families of Grays
Enumerated on the 26th of September, 1850, in Residence 28 and Family 28, lines five through fifteen, we find Samuel and Ruth Gray and their children Eliza, Sophronia, Hesy (Hester?), Anne, James, William, Nathan L., Sylvester, and Ruth L.
However, on line 16 and living with the family is one George Gramwatt, 17, born Ohio, attended school that year. Who he?
Living nearby, Residence 41, Family 41, lines six through ten, are David Gray (later to become known as Elder David Gray), Susan, George, and little Mary, along with David and Samuel’s mother Elsie (Alcy).
Oh, and on line 11 and living with the family is a William Gramwatt, 10, born in Ohio, at school. Who he too?
Alternative spellings are Greenwall, Greenwalt (both popular names in 1850) and Gramwalt, but I think the records clearly show Gramwatt.
So, two Gramwatt kids living with two Gray families. Why? Where are their folks? A mystery I’ll leave for the future — but in the meantime, if anyone has information, please post a comment here at the blog.
You can also visit the family tree to look around.
Posted on December 10th, 2012 No comments
The oldest direct ancestor that we can confirm is Nathan Munson Gray. We have reasonable confidence that NM is descended from James Gray and William Penn Gray. You can look these fellows up in our family tree site, Grays Going Back.
A surprising number of family tree web sites say that Wm. Penn’s parents were John Gray and Jennet (or Jannett or Janet or some other variant) Greer. A report that we got back in the 1970s read, “We believe his parents to have been John Gray and his wife, Jennett, who came from Pennsylvania and settled in Greenbrier County, VA in 1780.” I don’t know the source of that report; we got it from a Martha Courtney of Missouri, but I’m not certain that she wrote it.
You’ll still find John & Jannet in my site, but they’re not connected to anybody in my direct line right now.
Family history sites borrow information freely from one another — the software at ancestry.com and myheritage.com actually encourages that — but most folks are doing this for fun, and I suspect that not a lot of research is involved. So a lot of errors get copied over and over and over. (Incorrect dates for Nathan Munson’s death are a good example).
I was recently given information from a book called The Gray Family and Allied Lines by Jo Linn White & Gordon Gray. Thanks to researcher Kenneth Higgins, who passed that info on. This book shows that
- John & Jannett had a son William Gray
- He wasn’t William Penn Gray
The birth and death dates, spouses, and places of residence for the two men are totally different. And I can find census data and other records for both.
So how on earth could anybody believe that William Penn’s parents were John and Jannet Greer? I think that at one point, somebody made a mistake. And everybody else simply accepted it without bothering to check.
And they told two sites, and they told two sites, and so on, and so on, an so on….
Posted on October 1st, 2012 No comments
We took the trailer to a square dance convention at High Level. No problem traveling there or back (well, except for some wind, but that’s another story!) We watched the interior carefully to see if any new cracks or changes appeared, but it seems stable.
Some friends looked it over inside and out and said that if it weren’t for the grey primer on the exterior fiberglass, you wouldn’t notice the damage.
Okay, let’s fix that. Time to paint the trailer.
Our friend and body man Gary Free of One Stop Automotive in Sunnybrook was helpful. “I could charge you megabucks to mix the paint and spray it, or you could go to any store and get a few spray cans and do it yourself.” You don’t need special paint? “Nope, any good exterior paint will do.” He went on with further advice:
- Match cap color to the trailer color as best we could
- Use multiple light coats to avoid sag. “Be patient, it takes time to do good job”
- If working up to an existing edge such as a window frame, paint the entire area
- For open repairs, feather the edges by spraying progressively wider three or four inches with each coat, to blend the covered portion with the existing color
- Sand very lightly with 400+ grit wet sandpaper
- Wash carefully and let dry in shade
- Wax the entire wall
It took three cans of spray paint and a couple of days work, but the results were good. Unless you catch the angle just right, the repaired areas are virtually invisible. And even when the angle of view reveals them, the patches are not unsightly.
All that remains is to match the colored decals. That may have to wait until next spring, or maybe until we are in California this winter.
Posted on September 1st, 2012 No comments
The repairs to the fiberglass shell and door were left to the last. Our thinking was that if the interior couldn’t be made liveable, the trailer was of no real use to us and we’d part it out. But now that it was liveable and towable, it was time to take the tarp off and fix the exterior.
The door was a minor issue, with a strip of fiberglass torn off the top and consequent delamination of the door panel, but fixing it required removing the door and disassembling it. I reglued the panel, covered the missing fiberglass with a strip of aluminum, and rehung the door. To my surprise, it closes better than it did before the rollover. Go figure.
Next, with a fiberglass kit and a can of Bondo from Canadian Tire, I set to work fixing the holes in the shell made by the awning arms. It was picky, time-consuming work to grind out the holes, add the fiberglass, then sand to match the curves of the filon. I wasn’t worried about doing a professional-quality job, just about getting a reasonable match.
Once it was all sanded down, I sprayed the patches with gray fiberglass primer (wanted white, but couldn’t find it).
It sure looks a lot better with the holes filled in!
Posted on August 1st, 2012 No comments
One concern we had after the accident was the twist to the hitch. Was the frame also damaged?
Rob and I had crawled under the trailer after the accident and couldn’t see any obvious damage — no broken welds, no flaked paint, no broken hoses, no cracked tanks. But it would have to be checked out by somebody knowledgeable.
Frame and Hitch
We took it to a local RV repair place in Thorsby, AB and then on to City Spring in Edmonton, for a checkup. They offered to straighten the hitch for $3000 if I removed the entire bedroom floor. Didn’t think the trailer was worth that amount of money and work. So they checked the frame, axles, and suspension. All told, this is what was done:
- Wheel alignment
- Replace bushings
- Inspect frame
- Inspect hitch and redo some suspicious welds
- Inspect tires, rotate and inflate to correct pressure
The conclusion was that the hitch was a bit off-center but that if it towed okay there should be no concern of safety. I just needed to watch the tires carefully for signs of uneven wear (and since the trailer rides more level on the new receiver, the load is more evenly distributed on front/rear axles).
All of that cost about $600, but is worthwhile for peace of mind.
Posted on July 1st, 2012 No comments
We had no trouble at all hauling the trailer back from where it was stored in Claresholm. We took it slow and went on secondary highways. It tracked okay with no sway or fishtailing.
Once we had the trailer back on our Pigeon Lake acreage, we spent a good part of the summer fixing it up. Unfortunately, I can’t find any of the photos of the process.
Getting it weatherproofed was the first priority. The main issue was the broken vent covers, but there was also some minor damage to the roof fabric along one edge, and there were holes in the fiberglass shell where the awning uprights had cut in.
The trailer sat under tarps until Western RV in Leduc got in the replacement vent covers. I had been able to salvage the screens for these, and to straighten them up and fix the damaged release hardware. Thanks to my father, a former sheet metal mechanic who left me his metal-working tools, this was a fairly easy job.
The vent covers went in easily, and a little caulk fixed up the roof rubber. I kept a tarp over the holes in the exterior wall. Good enough for now.
We started with the interior, thinking that even if the trailer couldn’t be made roadworthy, we could always stow it back in the bush for a guesthouse.
- Washed the walls and ceiling to remove stains from spilled food
- Replaced one blind that was damaged by falling debris
- Glued the broken cupboard doors back together and rehung them
- Washed the rug three times to remove ground-in food and dirt.
Once we had done all this, the interior hooked really good. People who looked into it said, “You’d never know anything had happened to it.”
Posted on June 15th, 2012 No comments
We’re almost ready!
Got a replacement fifth-wheel hitch off Kijiji (from Barrhead Motors, thanks guys!) and had it installed locally at Leduc Hitchworks and Accessories. It’s a Curt E3, a 16K hitch and not quite as heavy as the Q5 (20K) hitch that was damaged in the rollover, but will certainly be fine for our needs. It also came on the same Curt R5 rollers for short-box use. When I pick up the rest of the Q5 (part of it went with the trailer) I hope to get repair parts and either use it to replace the E3 or sell it.
Also got another Tekonsha P3 to replace the one that was stolen. Tried to get one for $75 online but missed out! Although it might have been much cheaper to put in a Tekonsha P2 or other controller, the P3 bracket was already in place, and since the thieves clipped the wires, I already had the Dodge connector end installed and ready to go. Besides, I really liked that controller, and wanted to keep the truck up to the level it was before. It was an easy fifteen-minute job to butt-splice the supplied pigtail connector for the controller end, route the wires, snap the connector into the controller, and clip the controller into the brackets.
Hitch in, controller in — ready to haul! Now down to Claresholm to retrieve the trailer.
Posted on May 25th, 2012 No comments
Sorry to be gone so long. It has taken far longer than we anticipated, but we have our rebuilt truck back. Cost of salvage and body work came to about $17K of our $26K settlement. As we were advised by our angels, there was no frame damage.
Add in wheel alignment, coating of the replacement box, a new hitch to replace the one damaged in the rollover (and a brake controller stolen while the vehicle was stored in the salvage yard), replacement of a key and remote starter stolen or lost while in salvage, replacement of damaged sound system components….
My, it does add up!
Hope to have it all done by next week. Will there be any money left? Stay tuned.